Bob Ambrogi takes a first look at Fastcase’s iPhone app, and likes what he sees:
The app provides access to the largest free law library available on the iPhone. . . . I was impressed by its ease of use. I was even more impressed by its speed.
Fastcase’s mobile edition has been cooking for a while in our labs, and the iPhone edition is the first product to ship. Fastcase for the iPhone will be free to download, and completely free to use. We’ve submitted it to the iTunes app store, and will announce its launch on our homepage at www.fastcase.com.
In the meantime, for a sneak peek at features and screen shots, Ambrogi nails it in his review:
[T]his is a surprisingly robust legal research tool that will allow its users to find cases and statutes wherever they are, whenever they want, all for free.
We couldn’t say it better ourselves. Watch for Fastcase for the iPhone in the App Store soon!
The February issue of the ABA Journal previews what should be a very interesting year in the legal research industry, with both Westlaw and LexisNexis launching the first major new re-designs of their research software in more than a decade, and new entrant Bloomberg Law porting its research service from terminals to the Web.
All three services are moving to more intuitive interfaces, customized jurisdiction lists, simpler search boxes, relevance-ranked results, and visualizations of results. But the ABA Journal quietly raises the question: Isn’t Fastcase already doing all of these things?
Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase, a 10-year-old legal research and information provider in Washington, D.C., says his company has thrived because it already addressed the problems that LexisNexis and West are now trying to correct. “In the old way of doing legal research you get this long list of results and the results are undifferentiated. It’s one-size-fits-all,” he says. “That’s a huge problem.”
Fastcase sorts results from best to worst and citation analysis is built into the results. The results also can be sorted with a “four-dimensional graphical map” that helps users see the answers to the search.
Beyond innovations in legal research technology, the ABA Journal also points out Fastcase’s innovative business model as well.
In addition to selling its services to individual lawyers and firms, Fastcase counts 17 state bar associations and a variety of local bars as clients. In some instances, bar members receive access to all of Fastcase’s databases for free; in others, they are given access to their state’s case law and federal case law for free. Fastcase then upsells members on access to the cases of the other 49 states. More than 380,000 lawyers nationwide have some free access through their bar associations, according to the company.
At Fastcase, we’re passionate about innovation. We’re trying to change what David Curle of Outsell calls a “fat and happy” culture of complacency and high prices in legal research. Whether it’s innovation in research software, industry-leading reference support, or simply disruptive pricing, we’re proud to be leaders. If that shakes up the industry, and makes everyone innovate — all the better! Isn’t that what market disruption is about?
Fastcase is a member benefit of the Minnesota State Bar, and a pretty popular one. We were pleasantly surprised to see a recent survey of Minnesota lawyers posted on the State Bar’s PracticeBlawg showing just how rapid the adoption of Fastcase has been over the last year:
“Respondents also jumped on the Fastcase bandwagon. In 2008, 40% used Fastcase and in 2009, 58%. Yikes, you like free stuff!”
2009 was certainly a hard year on many lawyers, but we’ve been hearing as well that some of our investments in the Fastcase research engine are paying off as well. For example, we’ve recently added statutes and new public records search.
So as lawyers need affordable legal research more than ever, Fastcase is also taking the smartest legal research software and making it even smarter. And it looks like people are taking notice.
(And we love you, too, Minnesota!)
Injury Board.com places Fastcase on its list of Top Legal Websites.
“Many Bar Association members are eligible to join and use Fastcase free. Fastcase is a full-featured site, and probably requires a complete article describing all that is available. Briefly, Fastcase provides searchable access to most state and federal cases of interest . . .” Injury Board.com, Jan. 12, 2009
Members Receive Access to Comprehensive, Next-Generation Law Library Online Washington, DC and Las Vegas, NV (March 6, 2009) — Fastcase, Inc. and the State Bar of Nevada (SBN) this week launched a new, free research tool for SBN members. Nevada lawyers can now access the comprehensive, next-generation Fastcase legal research system by visiting the SBN’s website, http://www.nvbar.org/, getting for free from the bar association services that previously cost thousands of dollars per lawyer each year.
This exclusive member benefit library includes free access to Nevada caselaw, as well as all federal caselaw – which currently costs thousands of dollars per year on traditional services – for free on Fastcase with no monthly, hourly or time-based fees.
“We’re pleased to support our members, particularly in these difficult economic times, by providing Fastcase, a valuable resource that will save both time and money,” said Bruce Beesley, President of the State Bar of Nevada.
“In many law offices, access to the law is just behind rent or payroll in the list of overhead expenses,” said Phil Rosenthal, president of Fastcase. “We’re excited to work with the State Bar of Nevada to make the law more accessible to more people, and to bring them our proprietary technology that makes searching the law as easy as searching the Web.”
The SBN also has negotiated a fixed-rate price of $195 per year for access to the complete 50-state Fastcase database, which is an $800 discount over Fastcase’s normal pricing. Members simply log in to the free service and click the upgrade link to subscribe.
Fastcase launched in 1999 to democratize the law, building next-generation research tools and lowering prices for access. One way the Washington, D.C. based company has increased access to the law is through an innovative arrangement with bar associations, which subscribe at volume discount prices and offer the research tool for free to their members. Fastcase has signed member benefit agreements with 14 state bar associations and numerous voluntary and metropolitan bar associations, making the law free for almost 340,000 lawyers around the country.
The member benefit also includes transactional access to newspaper articles, public records searches, and legal forms, all integrated into the Fastcase website, making it one of the largest online law libraries in the world. Fastcase also features specialized technology to bring the best cases to the top of the results list, as well as sorting technologies that let users customize their results for the kind of research they are doing.
“With the Fastcase member benefit, members of the bar are getting one of the most innovative search technologies, running on one of the most comprehensive law libraries in the world,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase. “Lawyers subscribe to Fastcase for $995 per year – already a great price compared to other premium legal research. We’re pleased, through this deal, to be able to bring our service to members of the State Bar of Nevada for free.”
As the premium provider of next-generation legal research, Fastcase seeks to democratize the law, making it more accessible to more people. Using patented software that combines the best of legal research with the best of Web search, Fastcase helps busy users sift through the clutter, ranking the best cases first and enabling the re-sorting of results to find answers fast. Founded in 1999, Fastcase.com has almost 340,000 subscribers from around the world, and the company recently launched the Fastcase Public Library of Law (http://www.plol.org/), the world’s largest free legal research site for consumers and lawyers alike. Fastcase is an American company based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit http://www.fastcase.com./ or Fastcase’s legal research blog at http://www.fastcase.blogspot.com/.
About the State Bar of Nevada
The State Bar of Nevada (http://www.nvbar.org/) is a public corporation, incorporated on Jan. 31, 1928, and created by statute to govern the legal profession in Nevada subject to the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the Supreme Court of Nevada. Its mission is to “govern the legal profession in the State of Nevada, subject to the approval of the Supreme Court; to aid in the advance of the science of jurisprudence and in the improvement of the administration of justice; to promote reform in the law and in judicial procedure; to uphold and elevate the standard of honor, integrity and courtesy in the legal profession; to encourage higher and better education for membership in the profession; and to promote a spirit of cordiality and true friendship among members of the Bar.”